The Traits of a Top-Notch Receptionist

receptionistA company's receptionist is the first contact almost all people from the outside have with an organization. First impressions are lasting, so it is essential that a company has the best possible receptionist in order to make a positive first impression. A top-notch receptionist is an asset to a company that can't be replaced with an automated system or a steady stream of employees who do other jobs filling in when they can. The best receptionists have a skill set that crosses over several of fields, such as sales, tech support, organizer, and many others. Even though the needs of each organization are different, there are some traits the best receptionists possess regardless of the field.

Friendly, polite, and well spoken - The impression of your company is set within the first five minutes of someone arriving. The first person they meet is receptionist. A friendly, polite receptionist who is professional in their speech and manner will go a long way in making a good impression on a client. Friendly, however, does not mean overly familiar. It is not professional for receptionists to have long, involved conversations either with visitors or with other employees at the front desk area. Employees who are gossiping in front of visitors give a bad impression of the company as a whole. It is up to the receptionist to ensure the professionalism of the front desk and lobby areas. It is also important that a receptionist is well-spoken, using standard grammar and speech conventions when on the phone or speaking in person to a client. People still judge others by the way they speak and that judgment most likely will carry over to the company as a whole.

Organized with an attention to detail - The front desk of any company is hectic and can become a disorganized mess very quickly unless there is someone who can not only keep it organized but maintain that organizations as well as handle any crises that come up throughout the day. Receptionists must be able to put their hands on anything from a company phone list to the CEO's appointment book quickly and as the information is requested. Because they are responsible for the first impression a client would have with a company, they need to be organized and knowledgeable about the company and the activities going on within that company. As they are privy to a great deal of confidential information, they need to understand the company's document security procedures as well as maintaining a high level of verbal confidentiality, particularly with clients or outsiders.

Able to multitask - The ability to multitask for a receptionist is a vital survival skill. The front desk of any organization is a beehive of activity; therefore, the person who spends the most time in that location must be able to multitask to make the area appear calm and completely under control. To a visitor, if there is a franticness and confusion surrounding the front desk, they may question the organization as a whole as the front desk is seen as representative of how the company operates as a whole. Receptionists are regularly required to answer a multi-line phone, greet and announce visitors, assist all employees with various issues, and many other tasks that sometimes have to be done all at the same time - and appear to be able to handle it all with calm and grace.

Pleasant speaking voice and professional appearance - Aside from being the first impression visitors get of a company; the receptionist is the public face of the company to anyone who comes to visit. Because the receptionist is on the telephone for a majority of the day, s/he should have a pleasant speaking voice that is clear and easy to understand. The speed of her/his speech should be reasonable and consistent with that of the local community. Much of the culture of the corporation will be communicated through the appearance and persona of the receptionist. The company's customer service attitudes also are demonstrated in the way the receptionist interacts with visitors. As the gate-keeper and the impression-manager for the entire organization, the receptionist must have a very clear idea of the corporate culture and image.

Comfortable with office equipment related to the job - The front desk of any organization has a host of office equipment located there, all of which the receptionist needs to be familiar with and can teach others to use. From day to day, a receptionist can be asked to do very different tasks requiring them to have proficiency with different hardware and software needed to complete the task. In addition, the receptionist should be able to do rudimentary trouble-shooting and repair on the equipment in the front desk area. S/He must be able to teach others to use the equipment as well be responsible for maintaining the equipment and supplies for it. The technology today's receptionists are expected to master are wide and varied, ranging from a multi-line phone to complex, industry-based software. In addition to having many technical skills upon being hired, receptionists also must be quick learners and able to pick up new skills quickly then be able to teach those skills to others as needed.

The choice of a receptionist is an important decision as that person will be the face and voice of the company for many visitors and callers. When interviewing potential candidates, hiring managers should look for the traits of a success receptionist during the interview - professionalism, politeness, and willingness to learn. When a company find the right receptionist, they can be guaranteed to see growth and expansion due to the positive impressions given by a professional, organized receptionist.

Cassie Lummus is an independent writer for Answering Service United. She specializes in helping small and medium sized businesses grow.

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